Salmon Fishing

King (Chinook) Salmon

King salmon enter the Cook Inlet in late April as the water begins to warm.  The king fishery starts in the salt water out of Homer and continues up the Kenai Peninsula coastline in early May. They swim up the shore line and enter the Kasilof and Kenai rivers to spawn.  Fishing for Kings in the Kenai river is accomplished entirely by boat.  The size and strength of the fish preclude bank fishing.  There have been slot limits for the length of fish taken in the early run, but your guide will know all the regulations.  We know several of the better fishing guides on the Kenai and Kasilof rivers and can make arrangements with them for your fishing trip.  Peak times are always busy so let us know early in order to get a date.

We had a good day on the Kenai in late July 2006 when we caught two Kings (48 and 52 pounds), a Red, a Pink and two Silvers.  The four of us were fishing in our own small river boat without a guide.  It was very crowded- there were approximately fifty other boats in the lower river below Eagle Rock.  We were very lucky to land both Kings with all the boats around us.

Kenai Kings are generally large in the 40 to 80 pound range.  These two Kings weighed 48 and 55 pounds.  The one on the left took 45 minutes to land in the boat and we traveled almost three miles down river before it wore out.

 

The Kasilof river King salmon include both native and hatchery fish.  The first run of Kings in the Kasilof are usually under 30 pounds and can be fished from the bank.  Although sometimes landing a feisty 30 pound King from the bank can require a lengthy run down the bank trying to wear the fish out! In 2008, native Kings could only be kept on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday although hatchery Kings could be kept every day.
Also there was a two fish daily limit on the Kasilof.  Be sure to read the Fish & Game regulations this year.  The Kasilof river is restricted to drift boat fishing only due to the shallow water and many rocks. We will be glad to tell you the best places to fish on the Kasilof river and will contact guides to take you on a trip down the lower river in a drift boat to fish for Kings if you prefer.

Red (Sockeye) Salmon

In mid-June, the first run of Red salmon swim into the Kenai river and quickly head upstream to the confluence of the Russian river. There they will stop and stay in about a three mile stretch of the Kenai until some unknown signal happens telling them to swim up to the Russian lakes to spawn. This is really the first chance to catch the delicious Red salmon of the year and thousands of people from all over the world gather in this out of the way spot on the Kenai river to enjoy ‘COMBAT FISHING’.

This is the river ferry located on the north side of the river. Fishermen gather here to cross to the south side of the river where most of the salmon are laying in wait before swimming up the Russian river.

On the south side of the river, you will have to find a gap in the people fishing in order to catch the wild salmon.  You may be between an Oriental, a German, a Dane, a lower 48-er or another Alaskan.  Whoever is next to you, you can be sure that you will be hung up in their fishing line more than once.  Usually everyone is congenial and having a good time.

It is hard to catch your limit though as most of the fish either break your line or are released in the tangle with other people.  Add to this a few brown bear that think that this place is their fishing ground and they also enjoy what fish you catch.
This fishing frenzy usually lasts for about two weeks before the salmon get that signal that it’s time to swim up the Russian river to spawn.

Mid-July starts the second run of the Reds in the Kenai river.  The thrill of catching a 10+ pound Red salmon from the bank of a swift river is enough to get your heart pounding! The Reds are so strong that many a line and fishing pole have been broken by a fighting fish.

The season on Reds starts out with a limit of three fish a day, but normally when the minimum number of spawning fish up the river is reached, Fish & Game will raise the limit to six fish per day.  Be sure to read the regulations for the limits and locations where you can fish.  A beautiful large Red salmon is a thrill for any fisherman.

The Red salmon start entering the Kasilof river in late June.  Although they are not as large as the second run Kenai fish, they are still fun to catch especially in the swift, shallower water of the Kasilof.  Also the river is not as crowded as the Kenai and there you might also catch a large Rainbow, Cutthroat trout, a Dolly Varden or even a King.  Fishing for Reds on the Kasilof is much different than fishing on the Kenai as the fish are less concentrated at the edge of the river.

Down near the mouth of the Kasilof are primary locations for Alaskans to obtain their annual subsistence salmon both by hand netting and set netting. The Kenai mouth is also a hand netting location.  You can stand at the edge of Scout Park on the bluff in the city of Kenai and watch the locals netting the Reds on the beach below. 

The Silver salmon start entering the Kenai Peninsula rivers and creeks around the first of August.  These fish are usually caught with bait or lures and therefore are generally fished from a boat on the Kasilof and Kenai rivers.  The Silvers normally bite best it the very early morning or late evening as they are very sensitive to light.  The Silver Salmon Derby in Seward is a huge event with prizes amounting up to tens of thousands of dollars.  Generally fishing is done from boats in Resurrection Bay although at certain times the Silvers can be caught from the shore.
Catching my first red salmon was a thrill of a lifetime and hooked me on fishing in Alaska.  Fighting a 10 to 12 pounds salmon with a fly pole in a river that is running 12 knots is to me the ultimate in sport fishing.  Add to that enjoyment of eating a fresh wild native red salmon convinced me that the Kenai Peninsula was going to be my summer home.  It gives us great pleasure to provide our visitors with a beautiful place to stay while they are enjoying our great and wonderful state.

See more on the salmon prime fishing times and places.

Fishing on the Kasilof River
Kasilof King
Kenai Reds
Neal shows off his catch
A good catch of reds
Salmon fishing in the shallows

Combat Fishing
A great catch of reds on the rack
Fishing from the bank
Tom holds up his catch
Reeling one in from the bank
Cary with his catch

Our Drive – Alaska to the Lower 48

It’s the middle of September and this year’s salmon have all entered the river. Crooked Creek is full of red salmon fighting for a place to lay their eggs. The salmon eggs will hatch before the creek freezes and the young will head back down to the deep holes in the Kasilof River to spend the winter. They will stay in the river for a year then head out into Cook Inlet and the Pacific Ocean. In a few years, they will be back again to spawn in the same place they were born, their life cycle complete.

We began to close down the Kasilof RV Park for the winter. The kitchen screens are covered, time to take down the flags, put away the picnic tables and the flower pots for another year. We will turn off the water and blow out the lines. Fill them with RV antifreeze and lock up the buildings until the 2009 summer season. We are taking our 5th Wheel back down to the lower 48 states this year so we can use it during the winter. The birch trees are turning gold and are beautiful against the dark green of the spruce. We will take you on a tour of our trip back from Alaska.

Here is a good example of the colors and we can begin to see the terminal dust (new snow line) lowering from the top of the mountains. These small lakes (Tern Lakes) are at the crossroads of the Sterling Highway (1) which takes you down the Kenai Peninsula and the Seward Highway (3) which leads to the city and port of Seward. The lakes are nesting grounds for ducks and terns during the summer months. We turn onto Highway 3 and take the beautiful drive over the Kenai Mountains to Anchorage.

From Anchorage, we drive to the town of Palmer and then over the Chugash Mountains to Glen Allen and Tok. The Tazalina Glacier is a beautiful sight surrounded by the fall colors. Here again we see the terminal dust making it’s way down from the peaks of the Chugash mountains and soon this area will be covered with snow.

After Glen Allen, we travel just above the famous Copper River Basin to Tok and the Alaska/Canadian Highway (Alcan). It has become cloudy and we are getting a few drops of rain. The low clouds have almost covered Mt. Sandford off in the distance. This road which we snowbirds call the ‘Tok Cutoff’ is a shortcut to the Alcan Highway eliminating the long drive up the Parks Highway to Fairbanks to reach the Alcan.

As we head south of Tok on the Alcan, the sky off in the distance near the Canadian border begins to clear and promises a beautiful day for our trip through the Yukon. We pass by the US border without stopping and several miles on to the Canadian border entrance. The guard is friendly and has a few questions where we are going and if we are carrying guns, animals, liquor and cigarettes. Satisfied with our answers, we are on our way into the Yukon.

Further on we were rewarded with a beautiful view of Swan Lake nestled below the St. Elias Mountains. The Trumpeter Swans fly north to Alaska in the summer to their nesting grounds. In the fall, they again fly south with their young stopping along the way at their favorite lakes. There are several swans on the far side of the lake and can just be seen as tiny white specks.

On toward Watson Lake near the top of British Columbia (BC) where we will leave the Alcan Highway and travel the Cassiar Highway down the western side of BC to the Yellowhead Highway east of Prince Rupert. We had not traveled that route for some time as it was very poor in the past although the fall colors have always been spectacular. We were very pleasantly surprised as the road was in good shape this year and the fall colors were spectacular.

We stopped at Jade City 75 miles south of the Alcan Highway to see all the beautiful jewelry and sculptures made from the local Jade mines. We made arrangements with the owners to carry a few of the Jade items in our store at the Kasilof RV Park. Beyond Jade City, we reach the first stretch of gravel road. In the past, these 20 mile stretches have be almost impassable due to the constant travel by lumber trucks. This year the road had been recently graded and was excellent. We came over a hill and below us was Deese Lake and the town by the same name.

Below Deese Lake, the road continues to wind through the coastal mountains with the gold and green colors. The Cassiar Highway continues to live up to it’s spectacular fall scenery. The road is narrow and the traffic is light. Although not a fast route through BC, it certainly is one worthy of the time taken to drive it.

Further south lies Natadesleen Lake, a long narrow lake beside the Cassiar Highway. Below Iskut, a series of rivers run along side the highway almost all the way to Kitwanga where the Cassiar ends at Highway 16, known as the Yellowhead Highway.

We had decided to visit the beautiful National Parks of Canada, Jasper and Banff on our way back down to the lower 48 states. We traveled the Yellowhead highway across BC through Prince George into the Providence of Alberta and the town of Jasper. The beautiful scene greeted us at the entrance of Jasper National Park.

After a stop over at the beautiful ski village of Jasper, we traveled south on Highway 93, called the Icefield Parkway. The scenery was again spectacular with beautiful mountains, fall colors, a winding river along side and views of glaciers flowing out of the mountain ice-fields.
The parkway travels 135 miles of fabulous scenery between Jasper and Lake Louise. There are many glaciers flowing out of the Columbia Icefield.

 

We stopped at city of Lake Louise and pulled the 5th Wheel up the winding mountain road to the lake (large RV’s were not recommended although buses were traveling it). We were greeted by the huge Fairmont Resort Hotel at the edge of the lake.

The view from the hotel is the reason that Lake Louise is so popular. The glacier nestled in the V of the mountains feeds this beautiful lake. The lake is a dusty green caused by the suspended glacier flour (the finely ground rocks and minerals from the glacier). From Lake Louise, Highway 16 continues to Calgary, Alberta. There we picked up the Interstate 2 which will take us down to the Montana border of Interstate 15.

It was a beautiful and spectacular trip from Alaska to the lower 48 and we highly recommend it for a future trip for you.